Of course I agreed to go to speak to the staff. I brushed off the cobwebs that have been growing in my brain since I retired four years ago, put together a presentation and off I went yesterday afternoon. I hadn't expected to see 60 teachers waiting attentively but, after a few wobbly moments with the unfamiliar audio-visual equipment and a few very deep breaths, I was off and it proved to be the most interesting and stimulating session I have ever been involved in.
Purely by coincidence, this also happens to be Deaf Awareness Week in the UK. The slogan this year is "Look at Me." This is a reminder that anyone with any degree of hearing loss - and that means most of the population over the age of about 55 as well as those who were born with a hearing impairment - needs to see the face of the person who is speaking. It also reminds us of the achievements of people who are deaf; deafness can make certain aspects of life difficult but it should not prevent anyone from achieving their potential and enjoying life to the full.
I worked in the public sector for most of my professional life. I saw a great deal of inefficiency and waste, countless unnecessary changes and projects started and not seen through, while the steady day-to-day work was undervalued. I wouldn't put my own children through the system but did my best to support those children and families for whom I was responsible. I was always a campaigner for change so I do hope the new coalition government means what it says about making local authorities more cost effective and accountable for their decisions.